Madhya Pradesh, which last won the Ranji Trophy 69 years ago – then known as the Holkar State – finally returned to its glory days after beating powerhouse Mumbai by six wickets on Sunday. The Holkars dominated the domestic scene around the time of Indian independence, and at a time when cricket depended on the benevolence of the ancient princely states. But the 2021-22 crown matters first for the state of Madhya Pradesh and for the region as modern federalism has taken root in India, and the cricket-loving central plateau has taken a long time to come.
It was the last-afternoon disappointment of the 1998–99 final at the same Chinnaswamy Stadium 23 years ago, when Madhya Pradesh lost in the final. This time they defeated 41-time champions Mumbai by six wickets. The team was coached by former India wicketkeeper-batsman Chandrakant Pandit – hoisted on the shoulders of his players after the win. Pandit has now won his fourth Ranji title in five final appearances in six seasons, behind Mumbai in 2015-16 and Vidarbha in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
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— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) 26 June 2022
MP boasts of a rich ancient past and in 11 seasons from 1944–45 to 1954–55, the then Holkar team made it to the Ranji final ten times, and won the title on four occasions, including against Bombay in 1947–48 Included. Boasting greats such as CK Nayudu, CS Naidu, Syed Mushtaq Ali and Chandu Sarwate, the Holkar era was the most influential for any side in Indian domestic cricket, before the reorganization of states led to the formation of Madhya Pradesh in 1956.
For a cricket culture that later produced players such as Narendra Hirwani, Rajesh Chauhan, Amay Khurasia, Jai Prakash Yadav, Naman Ojha and Devendra Bundela, and boasts of the glorious legacy of the Holkar decade, the 1998–99 final was only an MP Had to remember with longing all these years. Under Pandit’s leadership, MP took a 75-run lead in the first innings against Karnataka and had a hand on the trophy.
Set a target of 247, they were 108 for 3 and in sight of a draw before falling to 150 late on the final day. To this day, Bundela, who became the third-highest run-scorer in Ranji history, laments what could have happened to his team as well as to his dream of playing at the highest level – if he Vijay Bharadwaj would not have fallen, sparking the downfall of MP around tea.
2021-22 looked to be headed for separation and despite the absence of players like Venkatesh Iyer, Avesh Khan, Ishwar Pandey and Kuldeep Sen, this team has achieved the end goal. He played only four frontline bowlers, excluding seam regular Puneet Date and instead taking on the role of the debuting all-rounder in Parth Sawhney.
How Mumbai was battered
Gaurav Yadav made his debut in 2012 but had the magic of his life on the first morning of the match, crossing Prithvi Shaw’s edge five times in a single over alone. His new-ball partner Anubhav Agarwal made his debut this season, and displayed similar commitment and control, as the pair bowled nearly 65 overs in the first innings. He pushed the ball to do much more than the three Mumbai pacers, though he also had a long stretch of cloudy sky to take advantage of.
Off-spinner Saransh Jain, playing only his 11th first-class game in eight years, bowled the ball beautifully and climbed the ladder. He also played his part in leveling Mumbai with the bat, scoring the first half-century at No. Young left-arm spinner Kumar Karthikeya raised questions on an unusable surface with his accuracy and ability to cut and cut the fast ball to the right. -Handers.
The promising Yash Dubey and the experienced Shubham Sharma put on a 222-run second wicket partnership with opposite centuries to suck up the fight from Mumbai. And Rajat Patidar arrived to take Mumbai out of the match with a century that will be remembered for his contemptuous dominance.
MP has been a side that has often knocked out but could not hit the last few punches. Pandit’s planning and authority has certainly made a difference but it is also a capable side that has been developing and rebuilding for some time after Bundela and Ojha retired.
“This team has now spent good four-five years together and that kind of unit develops maturity. When Chandu bhai was the captain, so was our batch – Abbas Ali, Sanjay Pandey, me, JP Yadav, Harvinder Sodhi, when you have so many players it makes a lot of difference. Some of us played more than 100 games,” Bundela said.
On the final morning of the game, Mumbai worked very hard for MP to score quick runs in front of wide lines and lost too many wickets to pose any real threat. Resuming the second innings at 113 for 2, and trailing 49, Armaan Jaffer and Suved Parkar started aggressively before Yadav provided the breakthrough with a surprising, slow full toss , which took out Jaffer’s leg stump.
Parkar and Sarfaraz Khan joined at a brisk 53 to take Mumbai to 192 for 3 when Karthikeya broke the stand, bowling Parkar in an attempt to cut with a straighter. An injured Yashasvi Jaiswal lasted two balls, and Mumbai were all out for 269 at lunch. In the end, perhaps a more measured approach with the bat could have helped them set a good target around 175-200, but testing a mere 108 MP wasn’t going to happen.
It will be even more satisfying that the first title has come after beating Mumbai, a side that has long been respected in MP cricket for its achievements, and a city with which the state’s commercial and cricket capital, Indore, is partly Shares with the Holkar cultural heritage given the background. For now, MP would eventually be able to move on from 1998–99, rest in the glow of victory after a regimented season under his coach, and then begin to think that the other sides should be the hunt for the pundit for the next season. How to stop doing